Last week, the Falcons routed the Green Bay Packers to secure their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. As an Atlanta sports fan, I’m excited. A Falcons Super Bowl victory would be historic for a city starved of championships.
Atlanta only has one professional sports title (1995 Braves) in more than 160 combined seasons of major professional sports competition. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s not an impressive record.
We live in a world that conditions us to expect every moment to be the best moment ever, every day to be a victory, and every season of life to be a championship season.
But the truth is, no one wins every game. In fact, some moments in life are pretty awful. And, in each of our lives, most of our time is spent between championships, not celebrating them.
In Exodus, the Bible tells the story of a group of people caught between victories. The Hebrew people celebrated a big victory when Moses led them out of slavery in Egypt only to wander in the wilderness for forty years before God led them into the Promised Land.
Forty years must have seemed like a long time to wander in the wilderness. By comparison, though, Falcons fans have been waiting for a championship for FIFTY years. That kind of waiting is enough to make you question your allegiances.
While the Hebrew people waited for their next victory, they questioned their allegiance to God and wondered if they would be better off returning to slavery under Pharaoh. Falcons’ fans have often wondered if they’d be better off throwing their lot in with someone else, too. It isn’t easy to remain faithful between championships.
In February we’re starting a new worship series at HERITAGE called “The In-Between Times.” Did you know that even after entering the Promised Land, the Israelites endured another 400 years of inconsistent leadership before they could celebrate a unified kingdom under King David?
That’s a long time between championships.
In our February worship series, as we study the period of the Judges, we’ll be reminded that ordinary life is messy, dangerous and often difficult.
And guess what? That’s normal! And that's where we'll most often find God, down in the everyday muck of life as we experience it.
No matter what the world would have you believe, most of life is spent in the in-between times. All of life can’t be a championship celebration. Every day won’t be a mountaintop experience.
And you wouldn’t want life to be like that anyway! It’s the valleys that give the mountaintops their glory and the waiting that makes victory so sublime.
As we study the Judges in February, we'll learn that the in-between times teach us courage and strength. They teach us patience and wisdom. And they force us to rely on God in ways that championship seasons don’t.
Life between championships isn’t always easy, but it’s the in-between times that make us who we are.
In life, like in football, the in-between times teach us the power of resilience and hope. The in-between times forge our characters and teach us determination.
It's the in-between times that will make next week's Super Bowl victory so special. And it's the in-between times that give meaning to your personal victories, too.
So even if it seems like you've gone an awfully long time without a win, remember, God is present—even in the messy confusion between championships—to give you the strength to rise up.
See you Sunday.